ARTICLE - Arisaka Rifle

ARTICLE - Arisaka Rifle

The Arisaka rifle (有坂銃 Arisaka-jū) is a family of Japanese military bolt-action service rifles, in production and use since approximately 1897, when it replaced the Murata rifle (村田銃 Murata-jū) family, until the end of World War II in 1945. The most common specimens include the Type 38 chambered for the 6.5×50mmSR Type 38 cartridge, and the Type 99 chambered for the 7.7×58mm Type 99 cartridge, which was comparably powerful to a modern .308 round. Many thousands of Type 99s and other Arisaka variants were brought to the United States by soldiers as war trophies during and after World War II.

The Arisaka rifle was designed by Colonel Arisaka Nariakira (有坂 成章; 1852–1915), who was later promoted to lieutenant general and also received the title of baron from Emperor Meiji, in 1907. Over the course of various wars several productions runs and variants were made, including the transition from the 6.5mm Type 38 cartridge to the larger 7.7mm Type 99, and the introduction of a paratrooper rifle that could be disassembled into two major parts for airborne operations. Tests on samples of Arisaka rifles conducted after the war showed that their bolts and receivers were constructed of carbon steel "similar to SAE steel grade No. 1085 with a carbon content of 0.80% to 0.90%, and a manganese content of 0.60% to 0.90%." During destructive tests, the Arisakas were shown to be stronger than the M1903 Springfield, Lee–Enfield, and Mauser rifles. Some of the early issue Type 99 rifles were fitted with a folding wire monopod intended to improve accuracy in the prone position. The rear sights also featured folding horizontal extensions to give a degree of lead suitable for firing against aircraft. Near the end of World War II, last-ditch ersatz models were being made in various cost-cutting feature variations with the goal of cheaply bolstering the imperial armed forces; for example, the ovoid bulb-shaped bolt of earlier runs were replaced by a smaller and utilitarian cylindrical shape, the handguard on the barrel was omitted, and crude fixed sights were fitted.

The Arisaka bolt-action service rifle was used everywhere in the Imperial Japanese Army and the Imperial Japanese Navy. Prior to World War II, Arisakas were used by the British Navy and Russian Army, in Finland and Albania. The Czech Legions that fought in the Russian Revolution were almost entirely armed with Type 30s and 38s. Many captured Arisaka rifles were employed by neighboring countries both during and after World War II, in places such as China, Thailand and Cambodia. However, after the Japanese surrender in the summer of 1945, all manufacturing of rifles and ammunition stopped abruptly, and the Arisaka quickly became obsolete. Since most Imperial Japanese Armory contents were thrown into Tokyo Harbor after the signing of the surrender, spare ammunition also became rare.

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